This truly is the year of milestones. A son graduating from high school, waiting to find out where he will head next fall. A daughter starting her journey through high school. Another son, choosing to go the Air Force Academy to play lacrosse and ultimately serve our country. A family and a marriage, officially ten years old today. The emotions run deep and feel simultaneously weighty like wet sand and light as a white dandelion puff.
Blended families are not easy. Being a step-parent is not for the faint of heart. Being children shuffling back and forth between two homes, two families, two sets of rules and two sets of personalities requires patience, flexibility, and acceptance. Ten years ago, I never could have imagined where I would be sitting this morning in the early hours of the day, thinking about what to say. I am filled with gratitude, love, joy, awe, pride, and disbelief mixed with the tiniest sense of sadness and apprehension of the inevitable changes on our horizon as our children leave to pursue their next chapter.
Ten years ago, we were digging ourselves out of a blizzard. My friends and I packaged linzer heart cookies into little bags and tied them with bows and a snowflake seal for our party favor while Eddie shoveled the driveway for the fifth time. In the afternoon, Eddie and his friend Alex were at deCordova assembling the Asian-influenced chuppah Eddie designed and constructed while I put the final touches on our wedding cake. The kids, then 4,6 and 8, were running around the house and playing with their cousins. My friend Jill was preparing to conduct our ceremony, my matron of honor, Leigh, was taking phenomenal care of the children and me, and my other friends were on-hand, ready to assist with hair, wedding cake transport, getting dressed & masking tape issues (another story).
The flavor of the day was family. This was not just a marriage between two adults, it was the start of a new family. It was a reality I was living, but which I did not fully grasp until recently. The hard work that was required was done by all five of us, nine if you include my ex-husband, his wife whom I love and her two beautiful daughters.
We not only exchanged rings and vows as a couple, we exchanged jewelry and promises with the children. Our first dance included Emmy. The cake cutting had many little hands reaching up to help. The engraved id bracelets we purchased for the boys are long gone as is Emmy’s heart necklace, but our family remains intact and continues to flourish.
To Jacob, Sammy & Emmy: Thank you for putting up with everything and for remaining supportive, cheerful (most of the time) and resilient. Each of you defines our family in such a unique way, bringing exceptional qualities I could not have dreamed of and for which I am eternally grateful.
To Max, Eloise & Wilson: I can’t talk about our family and not include you three! This mighty four-legged pack continues to dominate the Collins-Witt scene and brings pure joy and destruction to our chaotic lives.
To Marge & Pa: Our number one support crew. We could not have done any of this without your help, love, guidance, baby-sitting, puppy-sitting, carpool driving, dinner-making, dog-walking, paper towel buying, garden-pruning and house-plant trimming. You are an integral part of our lives.
And finally, to Eddie: I cannot believe it’s been 10 years. I continue to feel beyond lucky to have met you so many years ago & look forward to the rest of our journey. My head and heart are filled with all that I want to say, and yet my fingers remain hovered over my keyboard, a quiet smile on my face while I think of all that you are. Thank you for everything that you have brought to our family – high standards for impeccable character, exceptional values, honesty, respect, spontaneity, love of the outdoors, travel, patience, hard work ethic, creativity, readiness to dive into just about anything, perpetual care-taking of all us, and the willingness to be flexible even when it goes against every fiber in your body. I adore you.